Toll Hikes…Project Labor Agreements…Open for Business?

There has been a mixed bag of news this week for small business in New York.

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced a reduction (1.2%) in workers compensation rates for employers. A few months ago, it was widely reported that employers were facing an increase of around 11.5%.  Now, make no mistake, this is positive news but a simple fact remains.  There remain significant structural problems within the Workers Compensation system in New York and this is still a key area of needed regulatory reform for businesses.  I hate to dampen any positive vibes on this news, but this is reality and needs to be said.

Also yesterday, NFIB/NY joined other business leaders at a press conference to push back against the State Thruway Authority’s attempt to increase tolls on commercial trucks.   This authority has had a history of being fiscally irresponsible and putting their problems on the doorstep of taxpayers and toll payers.  In fact, an independent consultant has recently found that they need fiscal reform!

They seem to continuously lack any ability to recognize the fiscal and economic reality of this state.  This needs to change…and change fast.

Local media coverage on yesterday’s press conference can be found here and here.

The Thruway Authority continues to be in the news, and on my radar, with respect to the Tappan Zee Bridge project.  It has been formally announced this week that a project labor agreement (PLA) has approved for the project.   NFIB/NY is firm in opposition to PLA’s because we believe that they add to the cost of public projects, in fact many studies make that very point.  I am troubled that the state went in this direction, especially in light of the effort to make government more efficient and cost-effective.

I point out these three newsworthy items because they are relevant to this week and to the “open for business” discussion.  I stated yesterday that to truly open our state for business, it will take a three-pronged approach.

1. Public Policy

2. Public Perception

3. Fiscal Responsibility

PLA’s and toll hikes fail numbers 2 and 3 and the workers comp news needs more work under number 1.  We are not there yet.  It is that simple and our elected officials at every level of state government need to accept that.  But we can get there if we truly commit to work collaboratively on these issues, enact immediate mandate relief and avoid the traps of past public policy debates on unemployment insurance and health care.  We can get there, I do believe that, but it is going to take more than advertising campaigns and pretty soundbites.

I am ready to do my part to get this done.

About Mike Durant

Mike Durant was named New York State Director of NFIB in May 2011. Prior to joining NFIB as the Assistant State Director in May 2010, Durant began his career in the New York Senate working in the Office of Member Services. From there, he served in a number of positions during former New York Governor George E. Pataki’s administration. As a Research Specialist in the New York State Office of Demographic Policy, Mike was responsible for drafting a redistricting proposal for Governor Pataki. In addition, Mike served as a Research Specialist for the Empire State Development Corporation, as well as the Associate Commissioner of Human Resource Management with the New York Department of Labor. Durant also spent four years working at the Questar III BOCES as a specialist focusing on the complex formulas that drive aid to school districts across the state while also taking a lead role in the state legislative/budget process as it related to education policy. These past positions have given Mike a deep understanding of the complex political economics of the State of New York. Active in the community, Durant has served on a number of boards in both the village of Ballston Spa and Town of Milton. Durant received his bachelor’s degree from Siena College in Loudonville, New York and resides in Ballston Spa with his wife and two children.
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